I was at a planning meeting for The Conversation, and we were going over some details and recollections. It was brought to my attention that three people have passed away, who were in our class. For those of you not familiar with The Conversation, it is a class that invites people who are interested in learning the basics of the Christian faith. Years ago, the class had a different name, which I can't remember.
In the Conversation, the guests who registered come in and are seated at designated tables. Then we get in line to eat a meal (yes, we offer a free meal every week!). After that, there is a short message on an aspect of the Gospel (a different one each week). Then we talk about the message and draw the people out. There is no doubt that when one finishes the class, the Gospel has been clearly presented.
J.R. was an older man, invited by his son and daughter in law to The Conversation. He was hardened to the Gospel, but came for the free meal. I got to know him a little, because he was in the group I was in at the beginning. J.R. continued to come to The Conversation as it was offered each year. He still didn't get the Gospel though, but he did begin to come to church with his son and daughter in law, along with their family. I saw J.R. at the beginning of the fourth Conversation meeting. He told me that he would come, and maybe he would 'get it' this time. After that particular Conversation classes were over, another class was offered for those who wanted to continue to learn. J.R. started going to the classes. He never made it to the third class because he was in the hospital with a heart attack. He never made it to the fourth class because he passed away. J.R. came to know the Lord before he died. He came to Christ and had a radical conversion. God's word took effect in his heart before it was too late. God had mercy on him.
The next person was a lady I will call 'D'. I had heard about 'D' before and perhaps she had come to The Conversation already. She was an Atheist, and made it known during the discussions at the table. 'D' heard the Gospel but still believed it was a fairy tale. I do remember bringing in my 'Evidence Bible' (from Living Waters) and I believe she looked interested in it. For some reason, whenever I bring this Bible places, people notice and take an interest. I missed a meeting one night but had heard that 'D' was arguing with one of the other guests at the table. I don't know what that was about, but I believe she only came to one more Conversation class. She seemed to feel bad about what she had done and indicated that she didn't belong there. I heard that 'D' had passed away recently. She seemed kind of young (probably in her 50's) to have died, but perhaps she had health problems. I don't know where 'D' is in eternity, but my deep hope is that the words that she heard from The Conversation stuck with her and that she repented and placed her trust in the Lord. It may have been God's way of working in her heart and reaching this Atheistic woman. I hope to see her in heaven.
The other lady who died, was a surprise to me. She was at the table during the last Conversation we had. She had recently come to know the Lord, and was hungry to learn more. She was very outspoken too, about what she believed in and what God was doing in her life. She joined the church a couple of years ago, and was recently baptized. Then I heard that she had passed away a couple of weeks ago. One of the things she had told our pastors, was that throughout her life, everyone assumed that she was a Christian. No one asked her the deep questions that needed to be asked. It wasn't until then that she received the Lord and was born again. I was sad to hear about her passing away, but relieved to know that she is with the Lord now.
I wrote all this to just simply say, that those of us who know the Lord need to be faithful in preaching the Gospel. We need to be filled with compassion for lost people. Our love for God is revealed by how we love others. No one is guaranteed another day. What if J.R.'s son and daughter in law never invited him to the Conversation? What if no one asked the lady who attended our last Conversation, the hard questions? "Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person." Colossians 4:5,6 ESV